Your garage door does a lot more than just come up and down when you’re parking your car. It also protects your vehicle from the elements, along with anything else that you’re storing in your garage. Alberta’s elements can get pretty harsh — especially during the long, cold winters — so how can you make sure your garage door will be able to handle them?
The answer is to invest in a garage door made from strong, weather-resistant materials. However, various materials can be used for garage doors, so to choose wisely, you’ll need to know the differences between them. Fortunately, we’ve performed nearly 200 garage door installations for Calgary homeowners this year, and we’re here to help you make an informed choice.
What Materials Are Garage Doors Typically Made Of?
Garage doors are typically made from one of four basic types of material. Here’s a brief overview, complete with the pros and cons of each option:
Metal doors are usually made from either steel or aluminum. They’re popular with Canadian homeowners, mostly because they tend to be relatively inexpensive, and they’re easy to paint. However, that paint can also chip or scratch over time, and metal is vulnerable to rust — especially in provinces like Alberta, where high amounts of snow during the winter collect on properties and create moisture.
- Pros: affordable, low-maintenance, easily customizable for a range of appearances
- Cons: susceptible to rust from prolonged exposure to snow, ice, and rain (although waxing and applying anti-rust coating can help prevent this)
Wooden garage doors offer beauty and natural insulation, but they often require extra maintenance. Although wood has a certain timeless appeal, it can rot in damp weather. It also warps and cracks over time — especially in regions that experience extreme ups and downs in temperature each season. If you plan to buy a wooden garage door, make sure you’re ready to restrain it annually.
- Pros: nice-looking, provides natural insulation, easy to paint and repaint
- Cons: vulnerable to changing temperatures, can rot in moist conditions unless properly treated on a regular basis
Vinyl is one of the lowest-maintenance garage door materials. It requires no repainting, since its colour is mixed into the plastic that forms the cast ahead of time. It also does not rust or rot — although it can still warp and weaken with extreme temperature shifts.
- Pros: strong, inexpensive, requires no repainting
- Cons: can crack if impacted hard during cold weather
Fibreglass is a light, fibre-reinforced plastic used in many construction projects. Unlike vinyl, fibreglass doesn’t expand or contract when the temperature changes. Fibreglass doors are also easy to insulate, offering similar heat retention to wooden doors at a fraction of the cost. However, fibreglass is much more fragile than the other materials on this list, and can easily be damaged by accident — or even strong winds.
- Pros: inexpensive, easy to lift, easy to insulate, offers great temperature and moisture resistance
- Cons: easily damaged, especially brittle in cold weather
What Kind of Door is Best for Garages in Alberta?
Alberta’s climate can be challenging in numerous ways, but snow and ice provide the largest hazards for homeowners looking to protect their garage doors. If you want your garage door to last, you’ll have to choose materials that will perform well over many years despite blizzards and freezing temperatures.
Fibreglass garage doors are probably the worst option for people living in cities like Calgary. Put simply: you don’t want a door that can be damaged beyond repair by a high prairie wind — and that’s to say nothing of what a hailstorm might do to it.
A wooden garage door is a much better option, but only if you have the time and resources to maintain your investment. You can’t install a wooden garage door in a city that gets more than 128 cm of snowfall each year and leave it alone (unless you want it to rot right off its hinges in a few years). If you choose a wooden garage door, make sure you’re restaining and repainting it every year or two.
Metal doors require less maintenance than wood, but snow and ice will inevitably cause them to rust over time. Wax and anti-rust treatments will slow this process down, but probably won’t be enough to prevent it entirely.
Vinyl garage doors offer strong weather resistance and require the least amount maintenance under most circumstances. Just make sure to treat your door more gently when the weather gets chilly, since it will be easier to damage in lower temperatures.
No Matter the Material, Proper Door Maintenance is Key
In a climate like Alberta’s, there’s no such thing as a “no maintenance” garage door. You’ll always have to take steps to prevent our unique environment from damaging your investment — and call a licensed professional for help if it does.
Once you’ve chosen a material for your door and arranged the installation, make sure you follow up by implementing our tips for proper garage door maintenance. Doing so will protect your investment (and the contents of your garage) for years to come